Grass-Fed Beef, Eco-Friendly or Not

Posted By Amy Goodrich on Feb 3, 2017



Grass-Fed Beef Eco-Friendly or Not


Much has been said about the movement towards organic foods. One prominent example is the movement towards the so-called “free-range meat”, wherein animals are raised in conditions close to their normal habitats.

An offshoot of this approach is the proliferation of grass-fed beef. Compared to their feedlot-grown variants, this one has several nutrients and is free of harmful particles, such as hormones and antibiotics.

However, have uncovered that for all the hype surrounding it, it’s not that good. To be more specific, it’s not good for the environment. Why is grass-fed beef not eco-friendly? This article will look at this issue in detail.


What Scientific Studies Say


A groundbreaking research was done by 43 conservation scientists and ecologists from around the world. Entitled “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna”, this journal is an appeal to the scientific community and governments to make necessary steps to avoid the extinction of large carnivores and herbivores.

This study is led by Bill Ripple, an ecology professor and researcher who spent more than 20 years in studying the role of large carnivores in the world’s ecosystems. The research showed that large carnivores are being exterminated at a high rate, primarily to protect livestock such as cattle. This slaughter has a negative effect on our ecosystems.


Beef and Greenhouse Gases


One of the main criticisms about the continued raising of cattle and other ruminants for their meat is its contribution to greenhouse gases emissions. Ruminants are animals with a unique adaptation in their stomachs that ferment grass and other plant-based food during digestion.

This fermentation process releases methane, a greenhouse gas, which is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. This methane contributes to global warming, an environmental phenomenon caused by greenhouse gases with potentially disastrous effects on the world’s ecosystems.

Why is grass-fed beef not eco-friendly? This is one of the biggest reasons.


What Happens When Grazing Cattle is Removed?


“Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna” also studied what can possibly happen if grazing cattle was withdrawn from the world’s ecosystems. Surprisingly, the benefits go beyond the reduced greenhouse gases emissions. Hart Mountain, a 278,000-acre grassland that was formerly home to grazing cattle, was transformed into a wildlife reserve in 1990 to save the population of animals such as antelopes.

The effects of this removal were extensive. Shrubs and trees, such as willow and aspen start growing back. Animal populations grew back up once again. What was once an almost stripped land became a community teeming with life.


So What’s the Best Recourse?


It can be concluded in the study that yes, grass-fed beef is not eco-friendly. What can we do to address this? The best recourse is to stop eating animal products altogether.

Health reasons often drive the move towards a vegan lifestyle, but now, environmental reasons also trigger it. Does that mean we all have to become vegans? Not necessarily. However, the world needs to wake up to the fact that we are consuming too many animals products for the sake of their life, our health, and the eco-system.

Once you stop eating or drastically reduce the amount of beef and other animal products, your arteries will start fixing themselves, and the health problems associated with it vanishes. Combine that with the revival of ecosystems, and you have more reasons to turn your back to beef, grass-fed or otherwise.


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